Andrew Hammond is an Associate Partner at Reputation Inc, and formerly a UK Government Special Adviser and Senior Consultant at Oxford Analytica. The opinions expressed are his own.
With London 2012 proving a once-in-a-generation global showcase for Britain, a key uncertainty nonetheless remains over whether a substantial, meaningful legacy can be secured in future years from hosting the games. Given that the official public cost of the Olympics is some 9.3 billion pounds (a figure Parliament believes is nearer 11 billion pounds, and Sky News estimates to be a staggering 24 billion pounds) this is a key question, especially as Britain languishes in a double dip recession.
The two most frequently cited legacies of London 2012 are: firstly, securing long-term success from the regeneration of the Olympic Park and surrounding area; and, secondly, inspiring a new generation of sportsmen and women across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
However, above and beyond this, the Government’s ambition is nothing less than enhancing Britain’s reputation across the globe. The goal of its innovative cross-departmental GREAT campaign, of which the Olympics is the high point to date, is to refresh the brand of the home nations as amongst the top places in the world to visit, live, work, study and do business, with key areas of excellence (as highlighted in the Olympic opening ceremony) including Technology and Innovation, Entrepreneurship, Creativity, Knowledge, Green, Heritage, Sport, Shopping, Music and Countryside.
At a time of continued economic uncertainty, the bottom line is to increase business investment and growth: “to sell Britain on the back of British success” in the words of the Prime Minister. The Government estimates that the ‘London 2012 effect’ will stimulate some 13 billion pounds of benefit to the economy over the next four years, and is seeking to underpin this by hosting a global investment conference and 17 business summits during the Olympics.